A proposed tax on new city centre office blocks has been cut by more than half after business leaders warned it could stop developers building in Leeds and have a knock-on effect on jobs and the economy.
Councillors yesterday (Jan 29) recommended that developers should be charged £40 per square metre for new office developments in the centre of Leeds.
The council had originally proposed a rate of £90, potentially adding around £1m to the cost of building a typical city centre office development.
But Coun Neil Taggart, chairman of Leeds City Council’s development plan panel, said: “As the years go by we will be able to review this charging scheme.
“It is important we have development and jobs and therefore to me that is more important than charging £90 which is what we were considering.
“I think £40 is a sensible suggestion that has now come forward.”
Councillors were told that neighbouring councils were likely to follow Sheffield’s example and set a zero rate while Birmingham will charge £55 and Newcastle up to £64.
Known as the community infrastructure levy, the tax is a new way for councils to raise money from developers to help pay for roads, schools and other services.
Under the plans discussed yesterday, developers building houses in Leeds will be charged up to £90 per square metre, depending on the area, while new shopping schemes will attract a charge of up to £248.
The Government has suggested communities should be allowed to keep a share of the levy if they agree to house-building in their areas.
The proposals will now be considered by the council’s executive board of senior councillors before the public is given the chance to have a say.